In This Review

Chienne de Guerre: A Woman Reporter Behind the Lines of the War in Chechnya
Chienne de Guerre: A Woman Reporter Behind the Lines of the War in Chechnya
By Anne Nivat
PublicAffairs, 2001, 260 pp.

How much more do readers need to know about Russia's war in Chechnya? The unending suffering of distant innocents, the gutted cities and towns, the swollen refugee camps, and the daily outcroppings of terror and revenge all make it regularly into Western newspapers. But there is more, and Nivat -- a young French journalist who is fluent in Russian and was baptized in the first Chechen war -- provides it. As the conflict was beginning in fall 1999, she slipped into the war zone, clad herself as a Chechen woman, and for the next six months moved among the protagonists and those caught between. From her spare, soft-voiced account, the sounds and sensations of war take shape and the faceless acquire voices. The Chechen warriors speak, as do the Islamic extremists (they are not one and the same). So too do the scruffy, scavenging, adolescent Russian soldiers. Saddest are the laments of the old, the mothers, the limbless, the homeless, and the lost, nearly all of whom simply want the bloodshed to end.